Japan recalls Honda, drops Okazaki

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Japan’s national team handler, Vahid Halilhodzic, has recalled midfielder, Keisuke Honda, for their World Cup warm-up matches against Mali and Ukraine in Belgium later this month.

The 31-year-old Honda, who plays for Mexican side, Pachuca, last featured for the national team in September’s World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia.

Also on the list of players released on Thursday by Halilhodzic is Augsburg’s attacking midfielder, Takashi Usami, who is on loan at Fortuna Dusseldorf.

The list also includes FC Tokyo midfielder, Shoya Nakajima, on loan at Portuguese club, Portimonense.

Leicester forward, Shinji Okazaki, has been left out of the squad for the matches scheduled for March 23 and March 27, respectively, in the Belgian city of Liege.

Okazaki recently made a comeback from a knee injury.

Southampton’s defender, Maya Yoshida, with knee injury and Borussia Dortmund’s midfielder, Shinji Kagawa, suffering ankle injury were also omitted in the team.

Halilhodzic had left out Kagawa, Okazaki and Honda for friendlies against Brazil and Belgium last November.

Japan will face Colombia, Senegal and Poland in Group H at this year’s World Cup in Russia.

Invited players for the Mali and Ukraine matches consist of Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima, Masaaki Higashiguchi and Kosuke Nakamura.

Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo, Tomoaki Makino, Masato Morishige, Tomoya Ugajin, Hiroki Sakai, Shintaro Kurumaya, Gen Shoji, Wataru Endo and Naomichi Ueda

Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe, Hotaru Yamaguchi, Ryota Morioka, Gaku Shibasaki, Ryota Ohshima and Kento Misao

Forwards: Keisuke Honda, Yu Kobayashi, Yuya Osako, Genki Haraguchi, Takashi Usami, Kenyu Sugimoto, Yuya Kubo and Shoya Nakajima .